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Update Lets Digital Yuan Users Pay with Mobiles – Even When Their Battery’s Flat

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read
Source: Robert/Adobe

Another update to China’s digital yuan app is allowing users in pilot zones to pay using their cell phone – even if their devices have run out of battery or have no mobile signal.

Per Shanghai Securties News, Android users can now toggle a function that lets them “pay without network and/or electricity” in the “Payment Settings” section of the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC)’s digital yuan app.

The function allows the app to activate smartphone hardware – possibly near-field communication (NFC) technology. NFC hardware is used in most modern smartphones. This function, in effect, turns the phone into a “hard” wallet.

China has been pushing the use of hard wallets as an alternative to smartphone app-based digital yuan wallets. These have already been distributed in plastic card form, as well as wristbands – such as those used at last year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Similar offerings have already been unveiled ahead of this year’s Asian Games.

Hard wallets allow users to make micropayments, usually in stores, in public transport, or in taxis. They can be used offline and with no or minimal power – and update software and internet-based wallets when they are connected to the internet.

Paying Offline with the Digital Yuan App

The media outlet noted that a number of security features have been built into the app. These include password protection, as well as an adjustable limit on the number of times the device can be used to make payments while it is off.

If a user loses their mobile phone, or it is stolen, they can use their login details on another person’s device to “turn off the power-free payment function and prevent the loss of funds,” the media outlet explained.

For more sizeable payments, the app’s users can set password controls. This means that the merchant’s device will not accept payment unless the correct password is entered on their own device.

Elsewhere, the PBoC has announced this week that it will start including digital yuan tokens in official currency circulation statistics.

And earlier this week, ministerial documents appeared to suggest that the government is prepared to bring the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province into the fast-growing pilot zone.